In the wake of the shutdown of several academic programs at Langley’s Trinity Western University, the school’s faculty approved a vote of non-confidence in the school’s president.
The motion passed on Monday, July 17 with 71 per cent of TWU Faculty Association members in favour, 20 per cent opposed, and nine per cent abstaining.
The motion calls TWU president Dr. Mark Husbands out for the “recent decision to close several academic programs and lay off tenured faculty, while the University is under no financial threat.”
It also alleges the president has failed to communicate relevant financial data, was unwilling to collaborate to find alternative solutions, and “has failed to protect and promote core values of Trinity Western, including servant leadership and shared governance.”
“Faculty are feeling pretty left out in the cold right now,” said one faculty member, who asked that their name not be used.
On July 8, TWU announced it was closing down its theatre program, including its Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting program, its BA in theatre program, and the masters degree program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).
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The students currently in the programs will be able to complete their degrees and graduate, but no new students will be enrolled after this fall.
The cuts were made after an institutional review process that ranked the academic programs.
Faculty gave feedback, but “were not broadly consulted,” according to the faculty members who spoke to the Langley Advance Times.
Staff are also wondering why the theatre program was chosen for closure.
“The outreach that that program does, I can’t think of a program that does more to engage with the community,” the faculty member said.
A representative of the TWU administration described the vote as an “internal issue.”
“The TWU board of governors and the president will respond to the Faculty Association allegations, and that response will be shared internally,” an email from a TWU spokesperson said.
The changes were not done because the university is facing financial problems.
“In 2020, TWU received its highest-ever enrolment,” the university’s July 8 statement, which included news of the program shutdowns, said. “This was our fourth consecutive season of year-on-year enrolment growth.”
TWU also eliminated all its bank debt in the 2020/21 fiscal year.
“Closing under-enrolled programs allows the university to allocate financial resources for strategic investment in programs that are consistently meeting and exceeding high standards of academic quality and student learning outcomes, demonstrate integration of faith and learning, receive excellent student satisfaction ratings, and show growing enrolment interest and market demand,” TWU’s statement said. “It also enables us to hire additional faculty in the undergraduate programs with enrollment potential.”
The TWU Faculty Association’s motion cannot force the university to change its course.
The association is not an official union, having failed in a unionization drive nine years ago by less than 10 votes.
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